The first Super Bowl I covered was less than five months after 9/11. The NFL changed Super Bowl 36’s logo to a variation of the American flag – I still have the cap from it. The Boston Pops played patriotic music before the game.
Then U2 gave a 12-minute performance that remains one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended – even though it was at halftime of a football game.
I was in the Superdome’s press box covering the Rams-Patriots title game for the Sacramento Bee. U2 came out and played a couple of hits, starting with “Beautiful Day.” I remember how that heightened the effect for what happened next.
The stadium’s lights went off. Two giant sheets rose from the field toward the giant dome’s ceiling, like the now-gone, side-by-side Twin Towers. The names of all who died on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, categorized by headings such as “United Airlines Flight 93,” scrolled up the sheets all the way up onto the Superdome’s ceiling. U2 played “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
Names –2,973 of them – scrolled behind the band. I knew a few names, West Point classmates who were in the finance industry then, friends of friends in New York. I tried to read them all as I listened.
Everyone sang along.
It was an indescribably powerful musical performance. The game was fantastic, too; St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf” losing on a last-second field goal to New England and some kid quarterback named Tom Brady.
But what I’ll always remember from that game, that entire trip to New Orleans, was U2.